Sunday, 29 July 2012

Fats for fitness

I've been well and truly caught up in Olympic fever and consequently spent more time watching tv this weekend than I ever have (other than my misguided attempt to watch the full series of band of brothers in one weekend - not recommended)!

Not only was I avidly spectating but I was also reading up on the diets of some of our UK olympians.

Like most athletes Rebecca Adlington trains twice a day so eats seven or eight meals a day, with a high carb content, to provide a quick and regular source of energy plus having lean protein after every training session.

This is pretty typical and most athletes eat very low-fat high carb diets in an effort to keep down their body fat percentage. I was however pleased to read that British triathlete Vanessa Raw makes an effort to eat plenty of essential fats in oily fish, nuts and seeds - these fats are all involved in the energy production process so eating a very low fat diet could be counter-productive if you're avoiding healthy fats.

The pressure to be lean must be huge if you're a professional athlete, but just avoiding fat is no guarantee to keeping the fat off. The body very easily turns excess carbohydrates into fat, especially refined carbohydrates such as breakfast cereals and sports drinks.

This applies for all of us, buying and eating only lowfat foods is no guarantee to a slim waistline. Avoiding saturated fats is a good idea as these can interfere with fat burning and our hormonal fat regulation, but healthy essential fats found in nuts, seeds and oily fish should be a part of everyone's diet, olympian or not. If you're worried they'll make you fat, just do a google image search for Vanessa Raw!

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